Painting the Plastic Minis from the Battletech 25th Anniversary Boxed Set

When I posted an unboxing for the Battletech 25th Anniversary Boxed Set I promised to do some further writing about the included miniatures. To start off with I decided to do up one of the “cheap” battlemechs that are included. I talked about how cruddy the plastic was and how slapdash the molding seemed, so the question is how well do they look after they’ve been painted. I’m not a great painter, I’d say I probably an average or middle level painter. I don’t get fancy, but I can thin my paints and stay in the lines.

Since I’m a House Kurita loyalist I decided to grab the PNT-9R Panther from the boxed set and experiment with the idea I’ve been kicking around for a paint scheme for my Goryō Dragoons. The Goryō are similar to the Ghost Regiments, but with my own DIY twist to them. I won’t get into all that here, I only mention it because of the paint scheme I am developing. The Ghost Regiments paint their ‘mechs white and add Yakuza irezumi themed designs to them. I want to go more with the ghostly theme. A Goryō is traditional Japanese ghost, a spirit of vengeance of a martyred or otherwise wronged noble. The Ghost Regiments are made up of gangsters and scum, the Legion of Vega is for disgraced but still useful mechwarriors. So in the theme of the Goryō I have created a regiment of the sons of disgraced mechwarriors who are deceased, serving to reestablish the honor of their families in their ancestors stead. This follows the Japanese tradition of “rehabilitating” the disgraced. An executed noble would be feared to return as an angry spirit, a Goryō, so it was honored to bring it peace (not to mention placate the potentially vengeful familial survivors). Sometimes the honoring of these angry spirits transformed them over time into benevolent spirits, patrons of some aspect of life related to the deceased somehow. It was a neat system; you got rid of an enemy and got a patron saint out of it. So the Goryō Dragoons are not gangsters or disgraced mechwarriors in a suicide battalion, but fanatical sons and daughters trying to restore the honor of their families. Neat. OK, so I did go into all that…

So, after that diversion, instead of just white with “gangster” drawings like the Ghost Regiments I wanted a full-on Japanese ghost theme. I painted the ‘mech white, washed it in a heavily thinned Ice Blue and then painted the legs black to mimic the popular Japanese image of a legless specter. Let’s see how it turned out:

Yes, these are both the same mini. I am not the best at photographing minis. I don’t have a special box set up with good lights and all that, and the overhead lights of my house cast unfortunate shadows, and I use my smart phone to do it instead of a real camera. In the first photo it’s so bright you can’t see the wash. In the second photograph the wash shows up really well. The truth of this mini is somewhere in between. For the base I was trying to replicate the colors of the standard Battletech maps, with dubious results. But this was a test for the scheme as well. Note: this is the first Battlemech I’ve ever painted. Back when I was a kid I never bought the minis, though I really wanted to. I didn’t paint minis as a kid anyway, so I’ve only been doing this a little over a year in general. It was different than painting Warhammer 40,000 figures, so doing more of these will take getting used to.

But as far as the “painting the cheap battlemechs from the boxed set” test goes, I’d say it was a success. I used all my normal paints and primer and washes and all that. I didn’t have to do anything wonky on account of the plastic. I would say to make sure to primer the whole base, because some of that base was covered by the tape I used to hold the mini to my “painting board”. Where I painted directly onto the plastic on the base it didn’t want to go on smoothly, but the primer went on same as any other model I’ve done and the paint went on the primer same as any model I’ve done. Everything held fine while handling it during the process. I’ve done things where something wasn’t right and stuff flaked off before I was even done. I painted a plastic toy dinosaur once where the paint just didn’t like the plastic and everything crackled off. Oil and water based paints not mixing well, probably. But that wasn’t a problem for the “cheap” battlemech from the boxed set.

They feel cheap when you handle them. It may be the lightness of them, even more so considering the weighty metal-ness of Ral Partha or Iron Wind Metals. But GW plastics are light too, and they don’t feel cheap. “Cheap” and “Games Workshop” don’t even really belong in the same sentence, but that’s neither here nor there. But despite the cheap feel of them they paint up real nice. If you get one that the molding wasn’t all wacky then I would say you wouldn’t even have to buy a fancy version later. But seriously, some of these have crazy mold lines or casting flaws. And some of them have got crappy glue jobs at the factory in China and will need to have limbs torn off and put back on with quality glue. But some of them are nice, and with nice paint wouldn’t need replacing. If something crazy happens to my painted cheap plastic ‘mechs, like I wake up tomorrow and all the paint has fallen off, I will immediately edit this to reflect that, but I currently feel safe being happy with them.

Next time I write on this I will cover the multi-part plastic Omnimechs that came with the boxed set. It turns out that the Thor was already assembled, which surprised me. The Chinese fellow who assembled it seemed to have been in a hurry, but I’ll save that commentary for later…


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Filed under Hobby, Modeling & Painting, Reviews & Reports, Right Living

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